[Advaita-l] The avaidikatvam of the purāṇic division as sāttvika, etc.

V Subrahmanian v.subrahmanian at gmail.com
Fri Nov 3 13:51:52 EDT 2017

The avaidikatvam of the purāṇic division as sāttvika, etc.

Sri Sureshwaracharya in the Br.Up.Vārtika has said:

यः पृथिव्यामितीशोऽसावन्तर्यामी जगद्गुरुः ।
हरिर्ब्रह्मा पिनाकीति बहुधैकोऽपि गीयते ॥

[The Br.Up. 'he who, stationed in the pṛthvī devatā impels the
mind-body-organs of that devatā....' who is the antaryāmī, jagadguru, even
though one, is variously spoken of as Hari, Brahmā and Pinākī (Śiva).]

Anandagiri: कथं श्रुत्यवष्टम्भेन ईश्वरस्य कारणत्वं, मूर्तित्रयस्य इतिहासादौ
सर्गस्थितिलयेषु यथायोगं कर्तृत्वश्रुतेः, अत आह । यः पृथिव्यामिति । प्रकृतो
हि ईश्वरः स्वरूपेण एकोऽपि मूर्तित्रयात्मना बहुधा उच्यते पृथिव्यादौ तस्यैव
अन्तर्यामित्वेन स्थितिश्रुतेः, न च तद्विरोधे पुराणादिप्रामाण्यं
सापेक्षत्वेन दौर्बल्यादिति भावः । स पूर्वेषां गुरुरितिन्यायेन अन्तर्यामी
इत्यस्य व्याख्या जगद्गुरुरिति ।

Anandagiri says: How is it that while Isvara  is the jagatkāraṇam according
to the Shruti,  the itihāsa, etc. say that there is the causehood as
appropriately assigned to the trimūrti-s in creation, sustenance and
dissolution? [the idea is: while the shruti says Brahman, Ishvara, is the
jagatkāraṇam, we find the itihāsa, purāna, etc. distributing that to three
different entities functionally?] The above verse of Sureshvara is
answering this question: Even though Ishwara is one only, he is spoken of
as many, Hari, Brahmā, Pinākī. Why is it that Ishwara is admitted to be one
only? Since it is one Ishwara alone (not many) that is taught in the shruti
as the antaryāmin. If the purāṇa-s, etc. say something different (three
different individuals performing distinct functions), then since these
texts are dependent on the Shruti for their prāmāṇya, they do not enjoy the
status of the shruti; they are durbala, weak, only when they say something
contradictory to the Shruti. Since He, Ishwara, is the Guru of everyone
(including devatā-s) this antaryāmin, Ishwara, alone gets the epithet of

This statement of Sureshwara and the explanation of Anandagiri tell us
clearly that the idea of classification of purāṇa-s as sāttivka, etc. is
shruti viruddha and not to be adhered to by Vedantins. This is because, as
Sureshwara says, all the three, Hari, Brahmā and Pinākī, are verily one
Ishwara, the antaryāmin, the jagatkāraṇam, with only different names, and
it is a case of 'one only, only spoken of as several entities.'  Even the
Guru is verily Ishwara, the jagatkāraṇam, antaryāmin.

It is like Vāmana, Trivikrama, Nṛsimha, Mādhava, are different names of
only one Viṣṇu, and not that they are distinct individuals.

Shankara is the only Vedāntin that adheres to the Shruti tātparya that
Sureshwara has stated above. He says in the BSB janmādi asya yataḥ:

अस्य जगतो नामरूपाभ्यां व्याकृतस्य अनेककर्तृभोक्तृसंयुक्तस्य
प्रतिनियतदेशकालनिमित्तक्रियाफलाश्रयस्य मनसाप्यचिन्त्यरचनारूपस्य
जन्मस्थितिभङ्गं यतः सर्वज्ञात्सर्वशक्तेः कारणाद्भवति, तद्ब्रह्मेति
वाक्यशेषः ।  He specifies only one entity, Brahman,  and not three
different entities, as the cause of creation, sustenance and dissolution of
the universe. In the Praśnopaniṣat bhāṣya too Shankara says that one
Brahman alone performs the functions of creation, etc. as different
upādhi-s. He has maintained this stand alone everywhere, even in the Viṣṇu
sahasra nāma bhāṣya. The other Advaitin commentator Sridhara Swamin too has
clearly explained in the Bhāgavatam that Brahman alone in the three forms,
brahma rūpeṇa, viṣṇu rūpeṇa, etc. performs the triad of functions and not
three distinct individuals. This Vedic idea is not palatable to
non-Advaitins as their very philosophy rests precariously on the absolute
distinction of the tri murtis. And hence their penchant for the avaidika
classification of puranas as sāttvika, etc.

Quite interestingly, the non-shruti scripture too, sometimes offers the
correct position, voicing the Shruti-stand. Shankara cites verses that
teach non-difference across the tri-mūrtis and the identity, abheda, of
Hari and Hara, by bringing out the criticism of upholding the distinction
across the three forms and also by extolling the vision of non-difference.
Here is a sample that Shankara cites in the VSN Bhāṣya:

Two seminal verses from the Bhaviṣyottara purāṇa in the introduction to the

Maheśvara (Śiva) says:

विष्णोरन्यं तु पश्यन्ति ये मां ब्रह्माणमेव वा ।

कुतर्कमतयो मूढाः पच्यन्ते नरकेष्वधः ॥

[Those fools who, devoid of proper thinking, consider Me and Brahmā as
different from Viṣṇu, will be baked in the lowly hells.]

ये च मूढा दुरात्मानो भिन्नं पश्यन्ति मां हरेः ।

ब्रह्माणं च ततस्तस्माद् ब्रह्महत्यासमं त्वघम् ॥

[Those fools, wicked ones, by seeing Me and Brahmā as different from Hari
are committing the heinous sin of brahmahatyā.]

One can recall a similar verse in the Śrīmadbhāgavatam (Dakṣayajña section)
as said by Viṣṇu: such jiva-s will not attain liberation.

Clearly, such verses of the scripture are never a favorite of non-advaitins.

That Hari and Hara are non-different is brought out by the Mahabharata,
etc. in many ways: as Hari worshiping Hara and as Hara praising Hari, etc.
This inalienable identity is beautifully brought out by Sridhara Swamin in
his invocation to his commentary to the Bhagavatam:

माधवोमाधवावीशौ सर्वसिद्धिविधायिनौ। वन्दे परस्परात्मानौ परस्परनुतिप्रियौ॥

I bow to Mādhava and Umādhava (Shiva) who are both 'Isha-s' Supreme Lords. They
are capable of bestowing all accomplishments (to their devotees). They are
both the selves of each other and both love to engage in the stuti of each


There is a 'shankara-nārāyaṇa avatāra' which has been praised by an Azhwar.

// எம்பெருமான் செய்தருளின பல அவதாரங்களில் சங்கர நாராயணவதார மென்பது மொன்று,
இது ஹரிஹராவதாரமென்றும் சொல்லப்படும். *பாதிவடிவம் ஸ்ரீமந்நாராயணமூர்த்தி
யாகவும் பாதிவடிவம் பரமசிவமூர்த்தியாகவும் *கொண்டதாமிது, //

//*English Translation*

In the streaming-hills venkatam, the Lord my father seems to have both mat
hair and crown.  He wields both the axe and the discus, wears, both a snake
around his neck and the sacred thread. *Two images blended into one,* -what
a wonder!//

This idea is contained in the Sauptika Parva of the Mahabharata too where
Krishna says that the worship of both Hari and Hara leads to the same
result. Only Advaitins such as Veda Vyasa, Shankara, Sridhara Swamin,
Sureshwara can boldly proclaim the aikya/abheda theme. In fact such verses
are easily comprehensible requiring no convoluted explanations and
apologies such as 'Śiva says that as antaryāmi, praises go to the
antaryami, śarīra-ātma, etc.' It is a defect, kalpanā gauravam, in the
nyāya śāstra, when something can be explained without resorting to such

There is the other very well known shruti passage that directly proclaims
the identity between Śiva and Viṣṇu where too the concept of 'vyatihāra' is

http://upanishad.info/upanishads/text/krishna-yajurveda/sanskrit/skanda [Sri
Upaniṣad Brahma Yogin, an advaita Acharya, has written the commentary for
this Upaniṣad as well along with the entire 108 Upaniṣads.)

शिवाय विष्णुरूपाय शिवरूपाय विष्णवे ।
शिवस्य हृदयं विष्णुः विष्णोश्च हृदयं शिवः ॥८॥
यथा शिवमयो विष्णुरेवं विष्णुमयः शिवः ।
यथान्तरं न पश्यामि तथा मे स्वस्तिरायुषि ॥९॥
यथान्तरं न भेदाः स्युः शिवकेशवयोस्तथा ।[Skandopaniṣat]

[(obeisance to Śiva who is of the form of Viḷṣṇu, and to Viṣṇu of the form
of Śiva. Śiva's heart (self) is Viṣṇu and Viṣṇu's self is Śiva. Just as
Viṣṇu is fully verily Śiva, so too Śiva is fully verily Viṣṇu. As I do not
see any difference between them, let me be prosperous and long-lived. Let
there be no difference between Śiva and Keśava. In fact the Mahabharata
itself contains a similar verse:

शिवाय विष्णुरूपाय विष्णवे शिवरूपिणे ।।

दक्षयज्ञविनाशाय* हरिरूपाय* ते नमः। 3.39.76 (*हरिरुद्राय*) [These are the
words of Arjuna to Lord Śiva.]

In the Harivamśa, an extension of the Mahabharata, we have Markandeya's

मार्कण्डेय उवाच॥ शिवाय विष्णुरूपाय विष्णवे शिवरूपिणे। अथान्तरं न पश्यामि
तेन ते दिशतः शिवम् ।

It is Sri Appayya Dikshitar who has made the unnegatable statement:

  // viShNurvA shankaro vA shruti-shikhara-girAmastu tAtparya-bhUmiH
na-asmAkam tatra vAdaH prasarati kimapi spaShTam-advaita-bhAjAm |
kintu-Isha-dveSha-gADhAnala-kalita-hRRidAm durmatInAm duruktIH
bhanktum yatno mama-ayam nahi bhavatu tato viShNu-vidveSha-shankAm ||

The meaning of the above beautiful verse is:

'I have not the slightest objection, to anyone coming to any conclusion,
that the spirit of the Vedas and the Vedantas, declare either Vishnu or
Shiva as the First God. I am a follower of the Advaita doctrine. I have no
difference between Shiva and VishNu. But if in order to establish Vishnu as
the main God, if somebody starts abusing Shiva or hates him, I cannot bear
it. (There are as many proofs or pramanas in the Vedas, Vedantas, Puranas
and Agamas to establish that Shiva is a mighty God, as there are to prove
that Vishnu is a powerful one.) However, I am propagating my religion and
indulging in debate and disputation, only to persuade everyone not to hate
Shiva. Let no one have the slightest doubt that I either hate or wish to
denigrate Lord Vishnu simply because I praise the grace and greatness of
Lord Shiva.'

The sublime devotion of Dikshita to Lord Vishnu is fully seen from his
great work 'Varadaraja stava' where he has sung in ecstatic poetry about
Lord Varadaraja of Kanchipuram. Vaishnavas declare that Vishnu is the
supreme being and that Shiva has a lower status, being a mere jiva. Sri
Dikshita however proves in his 'Ratna-traya-parIkShA' that Shiva, Vishnu,
Ambika, all the three are the same, viz., the supreme reality,(*) and
proves it with the pramanas taken from the puranas, vedas and agamas. //

The above is quoted from the book: 'Sri Appayya Dikshita' (p.66,67) by
Dr.N.Ramesan, IAS.

And Veda Vyasa in the Mahabharata vouches for the above view of Appayya

रुद्रो नारायणश्चैव सत्त्वमेकं द्विधा कृतम्।
लोके चरति कौन्तेय व्यक्तिस्थं सर्वकर्मसु।। 12-350-27a 12-350-27b.

  The Padmapurāṇa, in the section on the Srimadbhāgavatapurāṇa māhātmyam of
the 12th canto says that 'he is the greatest vaiṣṇava who holds Śiva, Viṣṇu
and Durga as non-different, Brahman.    Shankara, Sureshwara, etc. alone
qualify in this litmus test.

The verses Shankara cites in the VSN bhāṣya, and those of the Mahabharata
and Harivamśa do not suffer from such a weakness of the need to appealing
to 'interpolation', etc. and resorting to any secondary meaning by giving
up the primary meaning: yathāśrutārtha.
All the above pramāṇa-s authenticate the shruti-teaching of 'One Ishwara
alone is spoken of in many names'; there are absolutely no three distinct
entities. The classification of purāṇa-s as sāttvika, etc. is therefore
avaidika according to Shankara, Sureshwara, etc.

Om Tat Sat

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